For days, the Warriors had an agreement in place with Jose Calderon. He’d take a $400,000 paycut to work out his release with the Lakers, then the Warriors would sign him for $452,000 into their open 15th roster spot. But unpredictable things happen in sports and business. Kevin Durant got hurt a day before Calderon was set to sign. The Warriors suddenly needed a forward, not a guard, for that final roster spot. They mulled it over and decided they’d prefer to pick up Matt Barnes, not Calderon.
Matt Barnes was in Los Angeles at his kid’s basketball practice on Tuesday night when he got a text from his friend Willie Green, a first-year assistant coach with the Warriors, letting him know that Kevin Durant was injured and the team was interested. Steve Kerr called two hours later. “Excitement,” Barnes said. “Tremendously humbled. This is the team that everyone talks about.”
"What is this, Game 61? If you're still looking for inspiration now, you're f---ed," Green told ESPN in an interview centered on playing without Kevin Durant.
Kevin Durant's knee injury proved to be a major scare for the Warriors after the star forward went down with a sprained left MCL. The injury will keep Durant sidelined at least four weeks. On Wednesday, Durant arrived in Oakland with a wheelchair waiting for him at the airport. KTVU had helicopter coverage of Durant's arrival and tweeted this photo of Durant.
The Rockets have two games remaining with the Warriors, but Harden said they will still be difficult tests. "They still have three All Stars on their team," Harden said. "Obviously, hopefully he can get healthy as soon as possible. Obviously, we're all praying for (Kevin Durant). They're still a good team. We just have to focus on what we have to do, how we can get better and put ourselves in a really good position going into the post-season."
Ligament sprains are graded on a 1-3 scale, with Durant’s being deemed a Grade 2. The typical recovery for such an injury is 4-8 weeks, but a bone bruise can potentially increase that timeline. “It’ll take him about 3-4 weeks to get over the initial pain,” said Bert Mandelbaum, an orthopedic surgeon at Kerlan-Jobe Institute in Los Angeles. “Then it’s about returning to basketball at that (NBA) level. I think it’s a range, depending on where exactly he is on the spectrum of that injury.”
Zaza Pachulia: Nobody is more disappointed then I'm for KD's injury. But he will be back stronger very soon. Get well soon my brother 🙏🏻@Kevin Durant
Can the 50-10, 1st place GSW win without their leading scorer? It ain't looking good ... according to longtime Warrior and HOFer Rick Barry. "I would think the chances are diminished considerably [without Durant]. I don't think they would have an opportunity to do it without Kevin Durant because he is such an integral part of their success so far this season."
Stephen Curry: Heal up my Man...we will hold it down til your back on the court with us. Prayers up! pic.twitter.com/R6CVJD9tZo
Draymond Green: I'm hurt to see my guy @Kevin Durant go down, but it's always strength in numbers. Get well soon K!!! #DubNation
Marc Stein: The Warriors announce Kevin Durant has a bone bruise (left knee) and will be re-evaluated in 4 weeks with a regular-season return possible
Rod Beard: Kevin Durant has a Grade-2 MCL sprain and tibial bone bruise -- out at least 4 weeks and will be re-evaluated then.
Anthony Slater: The Durant MRI results seem to be good news for the Warriors. Re-evaluated doesn't mean will return. But appears his season isn't over.
Mike Wise: The Warriors are hopeful Kevin Durant's injury is not season ending, a source on condition of anonymity told @TheUndefeated minutes ago.
Adrian Wojnarowski: Sources: Warriors, Kevin Durant's inner-circle bracing for tough news on KD's knee, awaiting MRI result. Fear is he's out months, not weeks.
The Golden State Warriors are bracing for the possibility that All-Star forward Kevin Durant could be lost for the rest of the regular season – or perhaps longer – with a left knee injury, league sources told The Vertical.
Durant underwent an MRI late Tuesday night to survey the knee damage, and team officials and members of Durant’s inner circle were expressing fear early Wednesday morning that the severity of Durant’s injury could preclude a return to the Warriors lineup before the start of the Western Conference playoffs in six weeks, league sources told The Vertical.
At the 11:03 mark of the first quarter, Marcin Gortat fouled Zaza Pachulia, sending the Warriors center tumbling into Durant's legs like a dangerous domino. Durant hopped away, in pain, holding his left leg. At the 10:26 mark, he asked Kerr to call timeout, and, after meeting with trainers, ended his evening with a walk to the locker room. "It was just a basketball play. Right?" Pachulia said, looking to the media horde for some reassurance before emphasizing, "No, I didn't know he was behind me." He then asked another, intentionally tongue-in-cheek question: "You guys think I did it on purpose?"
Connor Letourneau: Very somber scene in the Warriors' locker room. Some players were texting Durant words of support.
A firm injury diagnosis on Kevin Durant is not expected before Wednesday, but the Golden State Warriors have already lined up Matt Barnes to step in as a potential Durant fill-in, the veteran swingman confirmed to ESPN.
Ramona Shelburne: Warriors feel Barnes will thrive in their culture. Needed his toughness and perimeter defense, regardless. KD injury only added to it
Tim Bontemps: Kevin Durant's hand/wrist has improved, and he will play tomorrow barring a setback, per Steve Kerr.
Through it all, Durant kept reminding himself who he had been, and who he planned to become once again. "I just told myself every day that, 'I'm the best player in the world,'" Durant told The Associated Press. "'I'm the best player in the world.' I wrote that on my wall. I wrote that on my mirror in the bathroom, just because it's easy to say that when you're on top of the world, but it's kind of hard to say it when everybody's dogging you."
Durant listened to his doubters and made it a goal to shut them down. "I was able to change the perception that was out there of me of, 'I won't come back from this, this is going to be devastating, career threatening,'" he said. "I just used all of that. I think that type of pride is good for the game of basketball — just wanting to prove yourself after you fall down and wanting to stand back up even taller and stronger than I did before."
Anthony Slater: Kevin Durant is out tonight with a sprained right big toe. Did it in second quarter vs Hornets.
Oklahoma City Thunder star forward Kevin Durant is on course to return to the lineup this week, according to league sources.
Sources told ESPN.com that Durant, after missing the past six games with a strained left hamstring, is closing in on a return, though the specific game has not yet been chosen. Durant was not cleared to play in Sunday night's home win over Dallas, but it's believed that either Monday night's visit to Utah or Wednesday's home game against Brooklyn are strong possibilities for his return game.
Randy Renner: Kevin Durant out on the floor right now but will not play tonight. #Thunder #Mavs https://t.co/kTDT1flKGP
In addition to jumpers, Durant also went through a drill with Ivey and Williams in which he had to beat the double team while dribbling from halfcourt then pull up for a 3-pointer in transition. Williams and Ivey also did some light jogging with Durant the length of the court. “I hadn't really talked to anybody medically about him,” Thunder coach Billy Donovan said. “I think he's doing more than certainly he was a week ago. How close he is to being able to return, I'm not really sure; I haven't been updated on that, but I know that he's doing more physically just me watching and seeing what's happened over the last week.”
Asked if he has a better sense of his timetable, Durant said, "December probably is when I'll play again." Really? "Nah," he said, laughing. "Who knows, man? It's a day-by-day thing. They said a week to 10 days that they'll look back at it, so we'll see after that. But once they look at it again, I just want to be 100 percent ready to play. I don't want to push it and 'be tough.' I just want to be smart about it."
Randy Renner: #Thunder superstar Kevin Durant has been fully cleared to participate in practice
Now that he has returned to the court with the dynamic force he brought back Wednesday on the second day of USA Basketball minicamp, Durant has no fear in acknowledging the severe state he found his fifth metatarsal in despite the two prior surgeries. "It had a crack in it," Durant told Bleacher Report.
"I got like an extra layer of bone on the side of my foot that they put in there," he said. "That's why it took longer to heal. Keep it firm. I could've gone another route with surgery. That was the longest, and that was the safest."